Right-wing critic, senior journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead in Bengaluru

Photo courtesy: Gauri Lankesh's Twitter account
Senior Kannada journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on Tuesday night by unidentified men at her residence, police said. She was 55.

"She was shot dead from a close range at her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar (in the suburbs) around 8 pm as she was entering the house," Bengaluru Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar told reporters here.

"A total of seven bullets were fired out of which four missed the target and hit the wall of the house. Three bullets had hit her -- two in her chest area and one in the forehead," he said.

Her brother Indrajit Lankesh demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the death.

"I don't have any words to say. It is shocking that my sister, a journalist and activist, was targeted this way," he told reporters.

"There must be a CBI investigation into the death and there must be severe punishment for the killers," he said.

The Commissioner meanwhile said that police have "extracted the footage from CCTVs around the house and will examine it closely".

"We will register a case of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and set up a special team to nab her killers," a police official said.

Lankesh was Editor of the weekly Kannada tabloid "Lankesh Patrika".

Karnataka's new Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, who rushed to the spot with the Police Commissioner, told reporters that the assailants probably fired seven rounds.

"Within minutes, seven rounds were fired at close range. She was attacked outside her residence. As she had not sought police protection, no security was provided to her," Reddy said.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah condemned the crime. He tweeted:

Absolutely shocked to learn about the murder of renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh. I have no words to condemn this heinous crime.

— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) September 5, 2017

In fact, this is an assassination on democracy. In her passing, Karnataka has lost a strong progressive voice, and I have lost a friend.

— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) September 5, 2017

"Gauri was an advocate of secularism. She fought against injustice," he told the media.

"Police has formed three teams and begun investigations," Siddaramaiah said, adding that he had directed police to nab the killers at the earliest.

Congress state unit chief G Parameshwara called her death a "great loss to the community of independent journalism". "Lost a dear friend, an accomplished journalist and a wonderful human being," he said.

A prominent Left thinker and a staunch critic of Hindutva politics, Lankesh was convicted last year in a defamation case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Pralhad Joshi.

Her siblings Indrajit Lankesh and Kavitha Lankesh are both film-makers in the Kannada film industry.

The manner in which Lankesh was shot dead was reminiscent of the way Kannada progressive thinker and researcher M M Kalburgi was shot dead in August 2015 at his residence in Dharwad in the state's northwest region, about 400km from Bengaluru.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday expressed her "alarm" over Lankesh's killing and demanded justice.

She tweeted:

Saddened at the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. Most unfortunate. Very alarming. We want justice

— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) September 5, 2017

Biotech firm Biocon's Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw tweeted: "Shocking and blood-curdling to hear about the murder of Gauri Lankesh. These monstrous criminals must be nailed n dealt with sternly".

A journalist known for anti-establishment stand

Gauri Lankesh is known for her anti-establishment, pro-poor and pro-Dalit stand.

Among very few woman editors in Kannada journalism, she was a fierce activist, who openly expressed her pro-Naxal and Leftist views.

Born in 1962, Gauri was the daughter of legendary Kannada journalist and founding editor of Kannada weekly tabloid 'Lankesh Patrike'.

Her siblings — Kavitha and Indrajit Lankesh — are film and theatre personalities.

Gauri started her own Kannada tabloid 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike' in 2005 after quitting as editor of Lankesh Patrike following differences with her brother and paper's proprietor and publisher Indrajit.

She was convicted by a magisterial court in Hubballi last year in connection with a defamation case filed by BJP MP Pralhad Joshi and party office bearer Umesh Doshi who had objected to publication of a report against them in her periodical on January 23, 2008.

Gauri had in the past worked for the rehabilitation of Naxals who wanted to return to the social mainstream and was one among those involved in the founding of Citizens Initiative for Peace (CiP) in the state.

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